Rookie Scott McCulloch's unassisted goal 2:10 into the third period gave the Texas Stars a 2-1 victory over the defending AHL champion Hershey Bears on Thursday night in the opening game of the Calder Cup Finals.
McCulloch came down the left boards, cut toward the middle and faked his way around the Hershey defense before sliding a backhander from the slot between the legs of Bears goaltender Michal Neuvirth for his third goal of the playoffs. The 23-year-old had just five goals in 50 games during the regular season for Texas, the Dallas Stars' top farm team.
Matt Climie stopped 26 of 27 shots for the Stars, allowing only Francois Bouchard's game-opening goal 4:25 into the second period – the 11th consecutive game in which Texas surrendered the game's first goal.
Climie was at his best in the third period, stopping all 12 shots he faced. Neuvirth, who backstopped the Bears to the Cup last spring, finished with 24 saves.
Hershey, playing before a home crowd of 10,013 at the Giant Center, saw the visiting Stars tie the game 5 1/2 minutes later when Greg Rallo beat Neuvirth. McCulloch's goal handed the Washington Capitals' top farm team its first home loss since March 21. The Bears had been 8-0 at home in the playoffs.
The Bears and Stars, who did not meet during the regular season, play Game 2 in Hershey on Saturday night.